Lisa Orenstein: TEFLing in Ukraine

By Anne Saunders ’12

Ever since she was 8 years old, it has been Lisa Orenstein’s dream to join the Peace Corps. Now, after graduating from Marlboro in December 2009, Lisa has achieved that dream and is teaching English in Kodyma, Ukraine. “I love showing the children a different way of thinking, and learning their perspective on the world” she says.

Following an intense training in TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language), Lisa teaches classes of students from ages 8 to 15 and leads three English clubs each week after school. Her hope is to soon start an HIV/AIDS awareness club and begin seminars on female empowerment. “We are working on critical thinking in the classroom,” says Lisa. “I feel that that is one of the most important tools I can give them.”

Besides the everyday challenges of a classroom of kids with “a lot of energy,” Lisa reports that she has felt very welcome in Kodyma. “Everyone says ‘hi’ on the street, and I am invited to lunch, dinner or tea almost every day.” She says that the confidence she gained at Marlboro has been integral in attaining the leadership skills and independence necessary for her Peace Corps work. “If I can face the intense, difficult and time-consuming work of Plan, I can achieve almost anything.”

Alec Koumjian: recycling technology skills

By Anne Saunders ’12

Shortly before graduating in 2010 with a Plan on the physics of wind turbines, Alec Koumjian was pleasantly surprised to have his current employer literally come knocking at his front door. He thus became the online business manager for Recycle Away, a growing company based in Brattleboro, Vermont, that sells recycling containers for public spaces.

Although there is no immediate connection between his job and his Plan work at Marlboro, Alec is constantly using the skills and technologies he picked up during his four years on the hill. He was hired because of the breadth of his skills, and has had the opportunity to hone new ones “on the job.”

Alec’s work is a real mix of tasks: web development and design, IT, search engine optimization and automated systems. “In a business that is expanding faster than we can handle,” Alec says, “the main challenge is having enough time in the day to get everything done.” Though there are challenges, Alec loves the trust and autonomy that Recycle Away gives him with his work. “My decisions and work have an immediate and direct effect on the success of the business and my opinion is highly valued.”

Katherine Partington: balancing acts

By Anne Saunders ’12

Since graduating in 2009, Katherine Partington has been busy working in New York City at several jobs simultaneously, but primarily as a freelance performance artist for a variety of choreographers, directors and filmmakers. She recently received the L.A. Movie Award for “best actress” for her role in the movie Overload.

“In one week I will work as an intern, hostess, choreographer, dance teacher and performer,” says Katherine. “I finish a shift at a restaurant to then go perform at the Guggenheim Museum, or teach a dance class on Long Island, or take a yoga class at Yoga to the People.” Katherine has to keep every job part time in order to allow for the flexibility she needs to structure her life on a project-to-project basis, and her income varies accordingly. This can be very challenging, but thanks to her fierce ambition and experience at Marlboro she knows how to plan, prepare and get it all done.

Katherine says Marlboro gave her the ability to recognize a group’s purpose and potential, and how she could best contribute. She says, “Before Marlboro, I wanted people to give me permission to work and take risks. After Marlboro, I am not only giving myself permission, but I am creating my own opportunities as well.”

First Person Singular: Sarah Mutrux ’05 makes an art of non-profit community center

 

After Marlboro I returned to Craftsbury, Vermont, where I grew up. I wanted to do something to use my degree in visual arts and creative writing, and decided that teaching art classes to community members would be a good way to earn some income and share my interests and skills. I opened the Art House Gallery, Studio & School in June 2009. A year ago we joined forces with another business that was in transition, Stardust Books and Café, and created one non-profit called The Common Place. Our mission is to cultivate the creative and literary interests of youth and adults in the Northeast Kingdom while supporting the local economy.

My official title is co-manager, but my role is more that of the director. I am the only person working in the organization not on an interim basis, other than our board of trustees. I make the calendar of programs, host events, teach classes, and manage the physical plant and the studio schedule. My time at Marlboro helped me make connections and understand how galleries work, and gave me the basic knowledge to jury good art and curate shows.

I first heard about Marlboro College Graduate School’s certificate program in nonprofit management in an email I regularly receive as a Marlboro alumna. My nonprofit is headed into its second year, a crucial time for development, and I felt that I needed to know more about how the nonprofit sector works. The classes in the program confirmed that I was moving in the right direction, corrected my actions when I was off base, and gave me the inspiration, motivation, and knowledge to move my organization into the future. As a certified nonprofit manager I feel capable and qualified to lead The Common Place through its second year and into the future.

The hardest part is finding the free moments between my paying job, as an admissions counselor at Sterling College, to return those phone calls, send emails, order supplies…there is so much to do, and so little time to do it all in. But I love creating community bonds through the programming, seeing how much people like to participate and seeing people engaged, learning and enjoying themselves. I’ve also become accustomed to the long days, and miss my work when I take a day off.

I enjoyed the open critique discussions we had at Marlboro, and I incorporate this format into classes here whenever I can. Broadening people’s perspectives of art, enhancing exposure, and raising awareness are some of the biggest goals of The Art House. One program that we host each month is the First Friday Art Talk. I asked former Marlboro visiting professor and outside evaluator Brian D. Cohen to speak in February-the gallery was full of his watercolors and copper etchings. It felt great to have one of the people who taught me printmaking at Marlboro exhibiting work and presenting in my own gallery.